Category Archives: Bryan McLane

10 Steps to NICET Exam Success

If you’re looking to grab an edge in the fire alarm and protection industry, that’s where the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) comes into play. NICET awards nationally recognized certification programs that are increasingly used by employers to measure job skills and knowledge. But how can you ensure you pass the incredibly chanicet-certifiedllenging NICET exam the first time around? Bryan McLane, vice president of the National Training Center (NTC), has come up with a 10-step game plan to prepare technicians for the difficult test.

“It’s certainly not an easy certification to achieve. It’s kind of like the marines—the few and the proud. The certification is extremely valuable across the industry, and these steps will help get you there,” McLane said during a Nov. 18 webinar titled “10 Steps to NICET Success.”

McLane shared these 10 steps with webinar participants—a plan that has resulted in a 92 percent pass rate on the first test for NTC students, which is about three times greater than the 30 percent national average. Let’s explore this plan of action in detail:

Step 1—Start Studying Early: When students leave McLane’s NICET prep class, they are typically exhausted. But McLane encourages them to go home after class and do some reading on code—devoting plenty of time to studying early on.

Step 2—Get the Right References: Each NICET exam is edition specific, so it’s important that you obtain the most current NICET book edition for the exam you’re taking.

Step 3—Study One Bite at a Time: “This might be the hardest exam you’ll ever take,” McLane said. As a result, you cannot open the books for the first time the night before and cram for it. Start studying early and “in small bites.”

Step 4—Highlight Important Words/Concepts: Steer clear of focusing intently on every single word on every page. Instead, draw your attention to the words and concepts that jump out to you. Study with a highlighter in your hand so when you’re at the exam you can quickly flip through your book and locate the most pertinent and impactful information. At the end of the day, the exam is about effectively managing your time.

Step 5—Attach Permanent Tabs: NICET permits permanent tabbed references affixed to sections of your book during the exam. NICET will not allow for tabs that can be easily relocated during the test; therefore, use your best judgment to place permanent tabs on the most important chapters and sections of the code.

Step 6—Implement a Strategy: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Come to the exam with a strategy so you know how many questions you need to get through to pass, and don’t focus on the research-intensive questions that will take up too much time.

Step 7—Answer Every Question: In the past, a NICET exam strategy was to intentionally leave questions blank. But today’s strategy is to answer all of the questions because an unanswered question hurts your score. Work on the easiest questions first and, if you’re running out of time, it’s OK to guess on the remaining ones.

Step 8—Use the Flag Button: For the more difficult questions, use the flag button and then come back to them later on. You should not be sacrificing your valuable time on these research-intensive questions.

Step 9—Avoid Research-Intensive Questions: McLane cannot emphasize this point enough. You don’t have the luxury to invest a lot of time on the research-intensive questions. You should give an educated guess, flag the question and come back to it later on.

Step 10—Seek Out Study Guides and Training: The best way to succeed is by learning from people who are successful in the field. That’s because they have put together the best study guides and training plans to pass exams, including NTC, which has developed strategies for passing the NICET exam.

This webinar is now viewable on demand on the Silent Knight website. Click here to learn more about the 10 steps to NICET success.

About the Author
Beth Welch is the Manager of Public Relations & Social Outreach for Honeywell Fire Systems. For a decade, she has strived to raise awareness of new technologies, industry trends and information, for the benefit of engineers, integrators and end users.

Think You Know Mass Notification? Take a 10-Question Quiz

As a follow-up to his recent post “What’s so Different Between Mass Notification and Voice Evacuation?“, Bryan McLane from the National Training Center has created a quick, 10-question quiz for you to test your mass notification knowledge.

Click this link to take the quiz, or copy and paste this URL into your Web browser:

Here’s a preview of the quiz questions:

  • The autonomous control unit (ACU) for a mass notification system shall be listed for?
  • Strobes used for mass notification purposes only may be colored.
  • What is an appropriate mounting height for a wall mount strobe light used for mass notification purposes only?
  • Buildings with mass notification systems require a well-defined emergency response plan.  This plan should be developed in accordance with…


About the Author
Bryan McLane is a 33 year veteran of the security and fire industry.  He is currently Vice President of National Training Center, the provider of “The Very Best in Training” to the security and fire industry. ​

What’s so Different Between Mass Notification and Voice Evacuation?

​Mass notification systems (MNS) communicate emergency situations involving non-fire emergencies to building occupants (and individuals in an area surrounding a building) using audible and visual means.  Mass notification systems are governed by NFPA 72, Chapter 24 (Emergency Communications Systems). Chapter 24 covers requirements for mass notification systems, fire alarm voice evacuation systems, fireman’s telephone and radio systems, area of refuge communications, and elevator communications.

While mass notification systems and fire alarm voice evacuation systems both use voice messaging (speakers) and visible (strobes) to alert building occupants, the difference between the systems is the action that the systems instruct the occupants to take.   Fire alarm voice evacuation systems typically instruct the occupants to evacuate the building (“there’s a fire, get out”).

Mass notification systems notify occupants of other emergencies that may not necessarily require building evacuation. Mass notification systems may give specific instructions based on the type of emergency.  For example, for a tornado warning, the instructions may be to shelter in place, or for a chemical spill it may be to report to a specific safe area within the building.  For both of these emergencies, having the occupants evacuate the building would not be the best action to take.

System Types
Mass notification systems are classified as in-building and wide area systems.  In-building systems provide occupant notification within a building (just like fire alarm voice evacuation). Buildings that require voice evacuation per the building code and have a need for mass notification as well will often install a combination MNS/voice evacuation system like the 5820XL-EVS, allowing both functions to be performed by a single system.

Wide area systems provide outdoor notification using high power speaker arrays.  Wide area systems may also use distributed recipient mass notification systems (DRMNS) such as text messaging, email, or reverse 911.

Similar Fire and MNS Requirements
The notification requirements for mass notification systems have the same requirements as fire alarm (per NFPA 72, Chapter 18). Speaker/strobes are most commonly used for in-building notification, with the same mounting and spacing requirements as fire alarm. NFPA 72 permits using the same notification appliances for fire alarm and mass notification purposes, but the appliance must have no marking or be marked “ALERT”. A “FIRE” marking is not permitted for notification appliances used for both purposes to help avoid confusion.



About the Author
Bryan McLane is a 33 year veteran of the security and fire industry.  He is currently Vice President of National Training Center, the provider of “The Very Best in Training” to the security and fire industry.